COP28 – the 28th annual meeting of the United Nations “Conference of the Parties” to discuss progress towards stopping the climate crisis, starts November 30. This year COP is being hosted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the 7th largest oil-producing country in the world – this is just the beginning of the farce that is COP28. The conference is being run by Sultan Al Jaber, who is both the UAE climate envoy as well as the CEO of the state-run oil company, ADNOC. In fact, Al Jaber is planning talks with 15 countries at COP about how to increase oil and gas production.
Sultan Al Jaber’s record of environmental destruction and pursuit of profit at the expense of global life itself is of no concern to the U.S. government. John Kerry, appointed by Biden to be the U.S. climate envoy, was very supportive of Al Jaber, saying only that it was an “experiment” to have the CEO of a fossil fuel company lead a climate change conference. He noted merely that this so-called experiment “may or may not work.” In this context, “not working,” that is, not ending fossil fuel production in the next few years and eliminating greenhouse gas emissions, means a world which will be literally unlivable for billions of people, and which is already leading to mass death and destruction across the world.
In Hawaii, the village of Lahaina was destroyed this year and 115 people were killed by the deadliest wildfire in the U.S. in over a century. Massive, unprecedented wildfires have become a condition of life around the world as the climate crisis accelerates leading to drier forests and more kindling for fires. And this year has seen record flooding across the world. Southeastern Europe, Libya, Brazil, Hong Kong and other countries saw floods rip through cities, destroy homes, and kill and displace thousands of people.
Given the apocalyptic urgency of the climate crisis, one might expect that world leaders would be a bit more concerned about the state of the climate. But both Biden and Xi Jinping have said they won’t be attending the opening of the summit.
We can’t depend on these supposed leaders. Unless we end this capitalist system based on the ruin of the environment, these problems will only get worse.
This year, scientists have given bone chilling warnings of a world of climate catastrophe. 2023 is set to be the hottest year on record. Temperatures have gotten so high that climatologists can describe them only as “absolutely gobsmackingly bananas”. The increase in worldwide temperature this year was an unprecedented jump – shocking climatologists. The climate crisis is accelerating under capitalism – and that means more suffering for working-class people, especially in the Global South. It means more frequent floods and droughts that ruin people’s livelihoods; it means deadly heat waves, especially in regions without widespread air conditioning.
The capitalists and their politicians who are running COP28 don’t have any solution to this crisis. In fact, they stand in the way of finding solutions. Their conference is a farce. But working-class people can solve the climate crisis. Across the world, it is our labor that makes the economy run. And we can control how that economy runs. It is up to us to organize an economy that doesn’t lead to environmental destruction and massive catastrophe.